Saturday, 19 July 2008

Pardon me while I pontificate for a moment….

“Erotica is using a feather, pornography is using the whole chicken.”-- Isabel Allende quotes

I was on a particular publisher’s website – no, not one I write for – and I was reading a couple of book blurbs as you do. Anyway one of them stopped me in my tracks. You know how a blurb is supposed to hook a reader in to buy a book? This one repelled me. Why? Well it was supposed to be romance book but that only thing I got out of it was pure-in-your-face-porn disguised as romance. Yeah, I know – erotic novels can come close to the line of is this porn or not but this did not even have the have to waver on the line. The blurb screamed this is a porn novel.

So what does that say about erotic romance writers – myself included? Are we so wanting to thrill, excite and shock the reader that we forget the story and head straight for the sex ? Is sex

a part of the story of two lovers? Do we write porn and wrap it up under the heading of ‘romance’ to makes it acceptable? It’s a tricky thing to do when writing these books. You set out to write a love story with sex and in the end it could turn out to be a sex story with a possible wedding at the end to make it love. How do I know my books err on the side of erotica? I absolutely believe a good and experienced editor knows the difference between erotic romance and porn. A good editor will tell you when you are crossing a line. A reader will also tell you. They aren’t about to be fooled when they have put their money down for one thing and get another.

And yeah, maybe there is a formula to writing erotic romance. I don’t know. I’m not sure if I am even a natural writer. I believe I am more a natural rambler and an observer of human nature who types really badly and send stuff off to my editor who thumps her head on the desk in despair because I maybe should have a formula instead of rambling. And I have often joked with writers I know – “Oh no! My characters do not have sex until page 8!” Again, as far as I know, and please correct me if I am wrong, there is no template for writing erotic romance. Yeah – sure – it’s a no-brainer that at some stage you will have characters having sex hence the erotic tag. But as I said on a previous blog I tend to write the book first and slot the sex in later – lots of writers do that. It has to be the story first and then the sex later – that’s what, to me, differentiates an erotic romance to porn. I also write non-erotic romances. I write these the same way but the sex is subdued as the audience is not interested in that – and that’s fair enough. It’s about knowing your market. What if your market expects erotic romance and gets porn? Are you catering to your customer if that happens?

Now, don’t get me wrong…there are many good writers who specially write porn to cater to a specific audience who want to read that. There is nothing wrong with that. We all have our different tastes and values and really, paraphrasing Lady Astor, as long as no one frightens the horses I don’t care what you do – hurt no one – do what you like is my theory. I just will not wander back onto that particular publisher’s site looking at erotic romance novels. It just surprised me the direction their books were going in and of course as that direction does not appeal to me I won’t be by again. I will be very interested to see how that particular book sells. I am positive it will appeal to a wide audience. I congratulate the author on the contact and wish them huge sales. I just have to wonder whether putting it in the ‘romance’ section is appropriate. And, as always go ahead and give an opinion - good, bad or an indifferent opinion – on my thoughts or what you think. What do you think is the difference between porn and erotica? Does it all come down to chicken parts as Isabel indicates?

For a woman there is nothing more erotic than being understood.” Molly Haskell

The Amarinda and Anny Contest

What could be better than kicking back with a good book? Winning twobooks - one from Amarinda Jones – Knock Three Times and one from Anny Cook – Kama Sutra Lovers. Fantastic. You want more? Be the envy of all with two hand made hair piks to adorn your locks. But wait – there’s even more! How about munching on a delicious care pack of Aussie treats? One lucky reader will win all of this. How do you win this fantastic prize? Go to and and answer an easy question -

If trapped on a deserted island what two things could Anny and Amarinda not live without? The answers can be found on the websites. As soon as you have them email with your answers – there will be 4 in all.

The contest starts 18th July and closes midnight 23rd July 2008 (USA EST). The first correct entry drawn at random will win the prize. Good luck.
Go ahead: Live with abandon. Be outrageous at any age. What are you saving your best self for?


barbara huffert said...

After reading an erotic romance, you remember the characters themselves quite possibly for a long time if it was a really good story. With porn you might remember some of what they did for a little while but have no idea who the characters are and the book overall doesn't stick in your mind. I can write either as the mood strikes but it makes me smile when I write a romance.

Sandra Cox said...

Love Lady Astor's quote.

Ashley Ladd said...

I think, I hope, I write ROMANTIC erotica and never porn. I think my editor would tell me. Usually, my editors are screaming MORE SEX! EARLIER SEX in the book. I've never had an editor say tone down the sex, there's too much. Often, like you, I go back to add the sex scenes. I have to be in the mood to write them, so I write the rest of story first often times.

I, too, have picked up a couple of romanticas or erotic romances that were very light on the romance and seemed to be pure sex. I really had trouble getting into them. I want romance. I crave romance.

Anny Cook said...

I would be perfectly happy to have less sex in a book. If there is sex, I want it to be an integral part of the story.

Regina Carlysle said...

This has been troublesome to me. I worry that I'm losing the romance to add more sex and I really dont want to do that. I think adding the sex later is a good idea so you can give yourself a little room for more character development. Just feels that I'm starting to push the sex earlier and earlier so it works. Need to just slow the heck down a little I think.

Erotica or Romantica=romance plus hot, explicit sex

Porn= raunchy sex with no plot or character development or romance.

Jacquéline Roth said...

I too have heard the "more sex" and the "earlier sex" requests.

I think the number one difference is romance. If the relationship is not developed between the two characters and the plot and setting seem like an excuse to have sex then it is porn. If the characters have a real connected relationship and emotions are involved then it is erotica.

I don't actually think of myself as an erotica writer. I think of myself as a romance writer. Some of my stories have less sex than others, all of it is generally fairly intense, but sometimes there is just less of it.